Local shops celebrate annual Record Store Day with special exclusive vinyl releases
Max Szyc | Fulcrum Staff
EVEN IN AN era when music is primarily made and sold digitally, independent record shops selling the good old physical format are still around if that’s what you’re into.
While record stores have been closing down across the city for years—notable closures being Record Runner in 2006 and The Record Shaap last November—the stores that have managed to tough it out celebrate annually in the form of Record Store Day. This year’s events are set for April 20.
Started in 2007 and always taking place on the third Saturday of April, the day celebrates local record stores by offering up a variety of limited-edition vinyl records, including special reissues of previously released albums and brand new music by groups on both major and independent labels.
“It celebrates the fact that people still go to brick and mortar stores to buy their music, and not online,” says Tyler Clark, manager of Compact Music’s 190 Bank St. location. “There’s still something about flipping through racks and never knowing what you’re going to find, as opposed to just getting something off iTunes.”
The event has grown in popularity every year since its inception. Record Store Day originally included only about 10 special releases, but that number has grown to an estimated 400 titles, many of which are limited to specific regions.
Popular releases of past years included 2012’s Feistodon, a split single featuring Atlanta metallers Mastodon and Canadian indie singer Feist, who covered each other’s songs. Clark attempted to order 35 copies but only received five, which all sold minutes after his store opened on that year’s Record Store Day.
“Every year, there seems to be more people lined up than the year before,” Clark says.
Crowds accumulate early in the morning to check out the new releases at shops around the city.
“It’s easily our busiest day of the year,” says Vertigo Records owner Darin Tomlin. “Last year, we had over 80 people lined up outside before we opened the doors at 10 a.m. It’s easily our best day of the year—kind of like Christmas for record nerds like us.”
Despite the surge of customers, both Clark and Tomlin have to be sure they order the right number of records to not end up with too much overstock.
“That’s the other dangerous part about it. You could go really heavy on a title and you could get stiffed,” says Clark.
He recounted the time he ordered several copies of Animal Collective’s 2012 vinyl-only release Transverse Temporal Gyrus only to still have several copies left over to this day.
Record Store Day showcases the enduring popularity of the vinyl format, even with the slumping sales of CDs.
“It’s a niche market, so it will eventually hit its peak,” Tomlin says. “But as of now, it’s quite strong. I sell a heck of a lot more records than I do CDs.”
Clark added that the demographic switch has positively affected the industry.
“People that stopped buying CDs seem to be buying records now, and then you get the people who never gave up records,” he says.
Clark also feels records are simply far more reliable than digital music.
“I trust a computer as far as I can throw it,” he says.
Tomlin is most excited for the seven-inch split single by The Misfits and The Lemonheads. Clark is looking forward to the reissue of Sigur Rós’s seminal 1999 album Ágætis byrjun. Both are thrilled about the reissue of The White Stripes’ modern classic 2003 album Elephant.
For a list of participating stores and special Record Store Day releases, visit recordstoreday.com.